When You Work At a Museum...

When an unstoppable forces meets a totally fragile object…

That time a toddler ran full speed into an oil painting: 

And when the conservator came to inspect the damage: 

I’ve never really been a fan of those baby leashes that  some people use, but this submission made me reconsider my stance. 

No, sorry, this historic garment is not Haute Couture. But you are an awful person.

Anonymous Submitted: 

When there is an original striped jacked worn in Auschwitz is on display… and at a private opening a woman says “what a beautiful piece of clothing, they should have it back in production.”
So, I’ve had this submission in the queue for a couple of months, not sure how to “gif” it. I minored in Holocaust Studies and the appropriation of Holocaust stories and artifacts as a launching point for “entertainment” purposes has always been something I have found distasteful when not handled tactfully, and obviously I’m not actually capable of tact. But then this morning, a friend posted a link to this story on Facebook: 
So this is not only the random foot-in-mouth thought of an insensitive person in a museum failing to grasp the historical role of the garment she was admiring. An entire company missed the memo on not appropriating culturally sensitive imagery for profit. Writer, actor and tall person John Cleese has something to say about that. 

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While the design elements of the Zara shirt do not mirror a camp garment, the overall similarity is unsettling. The look of the camp garments is well documented in history, as is the general look of the “Old West Sheriff” (which the article cites as the look they were trying to capture). A striped shirt alone would not have triggered that negative association in me. A plain shirt with a star on the breast would not have triggered that imagery with me. A striped shirt with a yellow star on the breast? KLAXONS.  To me, the haunting similarity of the Zara shirt to the camp garment is entirely obvious and never should have made it out of the sketching phase, while the only hint to the “Sheriff” inspiration is the embroidery on the patch (which is very difficult to see in the photo).  And of course, the Zara shirt has a stylized 6 point star, similar to, but not identical to, the Star of David. (edited for claritity)

Museums put historically significant garments on display to help us learn and teach about historical events, people and context. Fashion designers look at historically significant garments for inspiration. Both require an appreciation for the cultural context of those garments.

I don’t think that Zara produced the shirt maliciously. I do think they were incredibly ignorant. What do you all think? 

JUMP BACK!

When you tell an event planner that the event they’re planning at your 300 year old museum can’t accommodate dancing and they ask if you’re “from that Footloose town?”

I don’t have a gif for this, but it seems like a good time to bring back one of my favorite #museumdanceoff videos. 

BEEEEEEES!

When your supervisor asks you to manage a swarm of angry bees that have taken residence in a classroom until security arrives, and you’re not really sure what “manage” means in this context, so you wing it. 

Also, WTF is Security going to do in this situation? Bring in someone who can handle this. 

(PS: My uncle is an apiarist who lost many of his bees to colony collapse, so I feel kinda bad joking about killing bees, so let’s assume for the purposes of this post that we’re talking about carpenter bees or mud-bees or killer bees who will steal your lunch money, and not honey bees, OK?) 

I have an irony headache.

When a curator casually announces in a exhibition planning meeting that the lone work by a woman of color is being scratched from the exhibition checklist for lack of name recognition. 

Why showcase a powerful artwork by an unknown living artist from an underrepresented demographic when you can put up another mediocre landscape by a well-known white guy who’s been dead for 100 years? This is actually a question? PUT ON THE KETTLE, KIDS. WE’RE GONNA BE HERE FOR A BIT.

Send in the Summer Camp Lawyers

When parents threaten to sue your museum for expelling their camper, who has physically and verbally attacked multiple staff members and fellow campers.

Then, when you realize they are serious, but have a mountain of incident reports, documentation, and the backing of the legal department that you did everything you could (and more)…

Yes, sir. We’re well aware of the situation.

When a concerned museum guest tells you, “There’s naked women in those paintings upstairs…”

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When the Smithsonian Museums start trash-talking each other.

…in the nerdiest, politest possible way.

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Apparently the Smithsonian staffers are coping with the misery of living in a humid, tourist-mobbed swamp-pit in August by mocking each other’s collection items on the internet. And some of them have gotten their hands/paws on copies of Photoshop. The results are pretty amusing. This storify has the highlights. 

After a serious twitter conversation with the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery, WYWAAM is going to #votegeorge because 1) love that Gilbert Stuart painting,  2) GW is #3 on my “I’d Hit That” list, Presidential Category, and 3) this completely NSFW biopic by Brad Neeley. 

When a museum board member asks for a favor…

And the favor is: to have their child be allowed to rollerblade around the museum for a charity scavenger hunt. 

You politely decline to allow it, but in your head it’s more like: 

Deaccessioning to create more collections storage space.

You’re totally making progress. A special kind of progress that is entirely futile, but it’s still progress.